Asterix to be Retranslated Into American English by Papercutz for 2020

US publisher Papercutz has announced that they will be the new US publishing of the world’s bestselling comic Asterix on the occasion of the character’s 60th anniversary. All the thirty-odd comic albums will be reissued… though what will worry the English language purists is that they will include all-new translations into English.

This is because the English translations over the past half-a-century have been praised for their willingness to depart from the original text, ignore some of the Franco-Belgian allusions and, basically, tell better jokes. Originally with Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge from 1969, then taken over by Adriana Hunter, a complete retranslation for Americans may seem as sacrilege by some, especially as the former English language versions have been so ubiquitous.

To start, Papercutz will be collecting the original stories in 2 omnibuses with three volumes worth of stories in each, as well as presenting the newest, best-selling album, the 38th in the series, The Chieftain’s Daughter in a single hardcover volume. All three of these graphic novels will be released in May 2020. Moving forward, Papercutz will be releasing 4 of these omnibus volumes per year for 3+ years, which will eventually collect every single Asterix story to date. This also includes publishing the newest albums every 2 years as they are released.

For those not in the know, Asterix, created by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, is the main character in a village of holdout Gauls who were never vanquished by the occupying Roman army. One reason they’ve successfully held off the Roman forces: a secret potion the village’s druid Getafix knows how to concoct that makes all the village’s citizens super-powerful,for short period of time. Though his companion Obelix was dropped in the potion as a baby and retains his strength at all times…

I mean, there’s one for a start. The druid who makes the magic potion in the French original is called Panoramix. The English translators turned that into Getafix. Now it looks like that will be changed back. Scandal…

  • 1959: First appearance, October 29, in the magazine Pilote.
  • 1961: Publication of the first Asterix album, Asterix the Gaul.
  • 6,000: Copies for the initial printing of the first album.
  • 38: Number of albums published through October 24, 2019.
  • 111: Number of languages ​​and dialects translated into (including Latin!).
  • 380 million: Number of albums sold worldwide since 1959.
  • 50 million: Number of visitors at Astéerix Parc for 30 years
  • 5 million: number of copies distributed to date of the 38th album The Chieftain’s Daughter, published just 7 days ago, October 24. An unparalleled success in the field of global publishing.

“Papercutz is thrilled for this opportunity to bring the world’s bestselling series to America with a true push here for the first time,” said Papercutz Publisher Terry Nantier, ”and the all-new more American translations, as well as our redesign of the books (new covers and new format) will make this series relevant to our American audience. After 60 years, the little Gaul Asterix is an ongoing mighty hit in most countries and languages and thus has proven himself to cross borders very successfully, and we say watch out America, we’re letting loose Asterix and his magic potion of power!”

“I am delighted to collaborate with Papercutz, a fantastic and clever comics publisher, to have for the first time ever the full Asterix collection released on the US market in a specific American edition,” said Céleste Surugue, Managing Director of Les Éditions Albert René, the rights holders. “Having this universe widely available to the US readers is a major event for one of the most famous and fun comic characters. The 2 creators have been huge fans of American comic artists from Caniff to Kurtzman or Gottfredson, who inspired their art very much. The Astéerix albums have been published in 111 languages and dialects until now and have sold in excess of 380 million copies. It was high time to have the American translation Astéerix deserves. We are really looking forward to having the full series including the latest volume, The Chieftain’s Daughter, available in a brand-new American edition!”

Rene Goscinny was born in Paris in 1926. After growing up in Argentina, he lived in NYC for 7 years where he had the chance to work at the Charles William Harvey Studio with Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Charlie Stern and John Severin who then created the famous Mad Magazine, an association that would mark him for life. René Goscinny had been nourished by this very specific Anglo-Saxon humour in all his future works. In 1959, he co-founded with Albert Uderzo the magazine Pilote which premiered what was to become the most successful comic series anywhere: Asterix. By the late sixties, Pilote turned to an older audience pioneering an absolute revolution in comics styles, narration and sophistication. Goscinny’s genius was not only in writing but also in editing, launching many famous and enormously innovative comics authors within the creative cauldron that Pilote magazine had become under his leadership, helping to raise comic art into a full-fledged art form. He died suddenly of cardiac arrest in 1977 at the age of 51, but his legacy continues.

Albert Uderzo was born in France in 1927 to Italian Immigrants. After a number of years in children’s illustration and co-launching a comics syndicate and agency (doing up to nine pages a week!), he created with Goscinny in 1959 the soon to be legendary Asterix series. He has been inspired by the works of Walt Disney since his early childhood starting with the 1st Journal de Mickey!

In 1959, Goscinny and Uderzo became editor and artistic director (respectively) of Pilote magazine. Their creation, Asterix, became a runaway success. After Goscinny’s death in 1977, when 24 volumes of Asterix were complete, Uderzo continued to write and illustrate the Asterix books on his own, publishing 10 volumes. The cover credits still read “Goscinny and Uderzo.” He retired from writing and drawing in 2011 but still oversees Asterix and the current publications by 2 prominent French comics artists, Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad

Papercutz will release Asterix Omnibus Volumes 1 and 2 in full color hardcover at $22.99 each and full color paperback, $14.99 each, on May 19th, 2020. Papercutz will also release Asterix Volume 38: The Chieftain’s Daughter in full color hardcover for $9.99 on the same day, May 19th 2020.

Asterix to be Retranslated Into American English by Papercutz for 2020Asterix to be Retranslated Into American English by Papercutz for 2020

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.